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matts

50mm: Pre-ASPH Lux or New-ish Cron?

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So, I've been shooting with a 28 Elmarit, a 35mm f/1.2 Voigtlander, and a 15mm Voigtlander for awhile now, and while the 35 certainly serves to fill my bokeh fix now and again, I can't help but shake my head at its softness. I know it's supposed to be some classic rendition, but I would love to be able to produce those high-contrast, soft bokeh shots that wide open Leica glass is known for.

 

That said, lack of depth of field is extremely important in this decision. I've settled on 50mm, and with my budget in check, it has boiled down to:

 

50mm Summicron - a newer version with the pop-up hood

Pre-ASPH Wetzlar era Summilux

 

They both cost roughly the same amount.

 

I understand that the 'cron formula hasn't changed much in decades since it's current design is probably optimal enough not to need an aspherical element, and the 50 'lux ASPH is the ultimate 50mm if you don't mind the slightly harsher bokeh. I personally cannot fathom dropping $4000 on a lense that's backordered everywhere right now, so I'm sticking with the choice between the 2:

 

What would you say? Cron or Lux?

 

I'm not sure if the DoF difference is extremely noticeable at 50mm. The Cron would give me the added advantage of focusing at 0.7m as older lux's only go to 1m. This isn't a real deal breaker as I won't be using a 50 that close anyways, but it's a consideration.

 

Basically, how does the pre-asph lux perform in terms of sharpness to the cron? Most importantly, wide open. Any suggestions, comments, or samples would be hugely appreciated.

 

Thanks

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I got a 50mm 'Lux just before the asph version came out. I'm pleased that I did, given the many good shots I've taken.

Here's an example of the bokeh; strange to some but rather pleasant: Pauline.

And an example with the M8 that illustrates rendering of points of light: Arch of Triumph.

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I have the preasph Lux and an old Summicron : when both wide open (1,4 and 2, of course), I personally prefer the Summicron, while at f2 I do not notice great differences in sharpness... a bit more contrast in the Summilux, but the Cron is really old (1960): probably the old coating has suffered a little.

Imho, I would buy a new Summicron... is a lens I'm considering too, even if I'll decide when I'll switch from M8 to M9... 50mm is a focal I tend to use not so much onto M8.

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The 'Cron is nice and compact where the 'Lux is heavier and physically larger. You should also get the reversible hood (#12586 w/14037 lens hood cap) for the 'Lux. The 'Cron has more of a tendency to flare than the 'Lux. At least this is true for my 1980's Summicron compared to my same age Summilux. The filter thread for the f2 lens is standard E39 for the f1.4 it is E43 with a 0,5 pich which is not as standard.

 

Personally I would choose the Summilux over the Summicron if I had to give up one of them. That extra stop is nice.

 

Carl

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....Basically, how does the pre-asph lux perform in terms of sharpness to the cron?...

As far as the latest version (with built-in hood) is concerned, the Lux 50 is a bit soft at f/1.4 but slightly sharper than the Cron at f/2. It is also virtually flare free, contrary to the Cron, so if size is not of paramount importance, i would go for the Lux w/o hesitation.

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So I tried out the 80's era Lux and the Cron. Strange, but I couldn't seem to focus properly, even with a 50 Lux ASPH the guy had around the place. My camera did manage to focus with one 80's 50 Lux which feels a little loose with a sticky focus ring. I've been offered it for $1200 CAD which is even less than the Cron which I wasn't extremely impressed with.

 

I'm thinking due to the fact that all these lenses didn't focus properly may be just that my camera is out of calibration, but my 6-bit coded 28 Elmarit ASPH works beautifully. What's the deal?!

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Can't say for certain your camera is or isn't out of calibration, but in practical use the greater depth of field of the 28 could cover up some focusing error that won't pass muster with a fast 50 wide open. OTOH, you're looking at a couple of used lenses, one of which you say has a sticky focus ring, so there's no telling if one or both are also out of whack.

 

As far as the original question, I have the 80's version of the Cron (same optically as the current edition) as well as the 80's version of the Summilux. I wouldn't part with one or another, and I wouldn't part with both in favor of the ASPH Summilux having tried one. I like the smaller, lighter and sharper (until about f/5.6-8) Cron with its 39mm filter as a general-purpose lens. But the pre-ASPH Summilux is absolutely perfect for what I use such a lens for. It's virtually flare-free even with an IR-UV on it, and it's "aberrations" at wide aperture give me the look I want in low-light photographs.

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The 50mm Lux pre-ASPH is known for its crazy swirling bokeh when wide open. The picture of the girl posted above is a good example of this crazy swirling bokeh. The cron does not have the same characteristic bokeh.

 

Note the pre-ASPH Lux comes in several versions. The e43 has min focus of 1m. The e46 has min focus of 0.7m. There is a price difference between e43 and e46.

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What's the deal?!

 

User error. I mean that in the nicest possible way.

 

Its very easy to make snap judgements and think something is wrong just because you came away disappointed. You should use a lens for some time and in normal situations before judging if it, or the camera, needs adjusting. Don't get drawn into the trap of photographing test charts and similar paranoid behaviour that is so often promoted. It is just to easy to convince yourself something is wrong if you are only a fraction out. So judge it over time, and if a majority of your photo's aren't in focus, you can them smell a rat.

 

Steve

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User error. I mean that in the nicest possible way.

 

Its very easy to make snap judgements and think something is wrong just because you came away disappointed. You should use a lens for some time and in normal situations before judging if it, or the camera, needs adjusting. Don't get drawn into the trap of photographing test charts and similar paranoid behaviour that is so often promoted. It is just to easy to convince yourself something is wrong if you are only a fraction out. So judge it over time, and if a majority of your photo's aren't in focus, you can them smell a rat.

 

Steve

 

I wasn't the only one who couldn't focus with it. Normally, I would just go ahead and get it and shoot a few thousand shots until I get the hang of it, but this isn't a $300 Canon lense we're talking about here. Anything Leica represents a significant investment.

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matts - first, if you have previously only used 15, 28, and 35 lenses, you may just be experiencing the fact that with longer lenses, the RF's precision is no longer always sufficient, especially working close and at wide apertures.

 

Pretty much since pro SLR's really hit the market around 1960, those pros who still work(ed) with RFs mostly limited themselves to 50mm or wider (often 35 and wider) and carried an SLR for anything longer than 50. E.G.:

 

Paul Fusco: Leicas 21/28/35, Nikon 105/180

Jill Freedman: Leicas 21/35, Nikon 105/180

David Douglas Duncan: Leicas 28/50, Nikon 200

Sebastiao Salgado: Leicas M+R, 28/35/50

 

Most of the Magnum or Nat. Geo shooters who still use Leica M tend to stick with a 35 ("one lens, one film, one camera") with occasional use of a 50 or 28 (e.g. Stuart Franklin, Alex Webb, David Alan Harvey)

 

That doesn't mean a Leica M can't be used with longer lenses (as lots of users on this forum will likely chime in to "prove"), but it does require more attention and care as the focal length or aperture increases. And sometimes a higher magnification viewfinder than the standard .72x/.68x - an M3 body (.91x) or an add-on magnifier.

 

I use a 75 f/2, 90 f/2.8 and 135 myself - but I treat all of them like pet rattlesnakes - they can bite at any moment (as regards focusing).

 

It also doesn't eliminate the possibility of calibration problems, either with your camera or the specific lenses you tried. You'll need to experiment a bit more to figure that out.

__________

 

Back to your original question - I've found that both the pre-ASPH 50 'lux and the post-1980 50 'cron have about equal bokeh - busy bright rings in some situations, smoother in others. The 50 'lux is fairly sharp in the center @ f/1.4 - except close up, where spherical aberrations make it pretty "dreamy." There's a reason Leica limited it to 1 meter for 35 years!

 

Me, I like sharp and I work close, so I found the 'cron to be preferable (on the M8 - I don't care for a 50 on full-frame). But as Misha's lovely shot shows - the 'lux does have its moments....

 

Here's a sample of a modern 50 'cron at work (on M8):

Edited by adan

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I found this guy in my city who repairs older cameras and he verified that my M8 was indeed mis-calibrated everywhere. A few tweaks with an allen wrench and a screwdriver seemed to have made my camera just that much better.

 

I'll be trying out those Lux's again. The current 50 Pre-ASPH Summilux I have borrowed gives gorgeous results, except it's in poor mechanical condition, so I will continue searching.

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Matts,

 

My apologies for off subject- What city are you in? I am in need of an ASAP focus adjustment (2nd time around), and Leica NJ is not being very forthcoming. Have tried to find someone to work on focus on a M9, but to no avail.

 

Thanks,

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Matts,

 

My apologies for off subject- What city are you in? I am in need of an ASAP focus adjustment (2nd time around), and Leica NJ is not being very forthcoming. Have tried to find someone to work on focus on a M9, but to no avail.

 

Thanks,

 

I'm in Toronto. I would assume major NE US cities should have people capable of adjusting the RF. It's a relatively simple adjustment requiring an allen wrench and a screwdriver.

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